US discussing new Iran sanctions with Israel
Published Monday, June 4, 2012
The United States is conferring with Israel about new sanctions planned against Iran should international negotiations this month fail to curb Tehran's nuclear program, a US official said on Monday.
The comment offered a strong hint that Washington is continuing to apply the brakes on any plan by Israel to attack Iranian nuclear facilities preemptively.
Israel has signaled increasing impatience with the lack of progress during the negotiations involving Iran, the United States and five other world powers. The Jewish state has continually threatened to bomb Iran over its nuclear program, despite holding the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.
The third round of talks will be hosted by Russia on June 18-19.
"If we don't get a breakthrough in Moscow there is no question we will continue to ratchet up the pressure," David Cohen, US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told Haaretz newspaper during a visit to Israel.
The United States and European Union have already made clear they will stiffen sanctions should Iran pursue uranium enrichment, a process that can yield fuel for warheads though it insists the objective is civilian energy and medical isotopes.
Cohen stressed the depth of the US-Israeli partnership.
"We have today and over the past years had very close cooperation with the Israeli government across a range of our sanctions programs," he said. "They are creative. They are supportive and we will continue to consult with the Israelis."
Cohen made similar comments to Army Radio, a major Israeli broadcaster, during his 36-hour visit, when he was to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's senior security staff.